Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma Treatment

Radiation therapy precisely targets and attacks diseased tissue to slow or stop tumor growth. Radiation therapy for mesothelioma is an integral component of many mesothelioma treatment plans developed by physicians at Penn Medicine.

Mesothelioma can be treated with radiation therapy in different ways. Often, it is a tool to remove cancer that could not be completely removed during surgery. Radiation therapy can also be used to relieve symptoms of mesothelioma such as shortness of breath, pain, bleeding and difficulty swallowing.

The mesothelioma program at Penn offers patients a full complement of radiation treatments including new cancer treatments such as proton therapy — a powerful tool available at only a few cancer centers in the nation.

Radiation Therapy for Mesothelioma Treatment at Penn

The following radiation therapy treatments for mesothelioma are offered at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia:

Brachytherapy for Mesothelioma

Brachytherapy involves placing small, radioactive implants, such as metal pellets, seeds, ribbons, wires, needles, capsules, or tubes in small, sealed holders inside the body. This is done in a hospital operating room and requires imaging technology (such as X-ray or MRI) to determine the exact location for the radiation to be placed to most effectively treat the cancer. Implants may be left in the body for only a short time, or permanently.

The advantage of brachytherapy is that it delivers a high dose of radiation to a smaller area than may be possible with external radiation treatment, which is delivered by machines located outside the body.

Intensity-modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) for Mesothelioma

IMRT is a form of radiation therapy administered by a linear accelerator — a computer-controlled device that delivers precise doses of radiation to tumors or specific areas within the tumors. Because IMRT uses 3-D computed tomography (CT) images and computerized dose calculations, it can conform, or modulate, the radiation beam more precisely to the shape of the tumor. This helps ensure that exposure to healthy surrounding tissue is minimized.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for Mesothelioma

Penn was the first health system in the Philadelphia region to use photdymanic therapy to treat pleural cancers. Also known as photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, or photochemotherapy, PDT brings together light-sensitive medication (photosensitizer) and low-level beams of light to destroy cancer cells.

Proton Therapy for Mesothelioma

Penn Medicine's Roberts Proton Therapy Center is the largest and most sophisticated facility in the world for this advanced form of radiation treatment. Proton therapy is external beam radiotherapy in which protons are directed at a tumor. The radiation dose that is given through protons is very precise, and limits the exposure of normal tissues. This allows the radiation dose delivered to the tumor to be increased beyond conventional radiation. The result is a better chance for curing cancer with fewer harmful side effects.

Proton therapy, like all forms of radiation therapy, works by aiming the energized particles — in this case protons — onto the target tumor. The particles damage the DNA of cells, ultimately causing their death. Unlike X-rays, protons can be manipulated to release most of their energy only when they reach their target. With more energy reaching the cancerous cells, more damage is administered by each burst of radiation.

Volumetric-modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) for Mesothelioma

VMAT radiation beams sweep in uninterrupted arc(s) around the patient, speeding treatment delivery and reducing treatment time. Imaging increases the precision and allows physicians to visualize the tumor target at the time of treatment and to guide therapy that both maximizes the radiation dose to the target and minimizes exposure to surrounding healthy tissues.

Need More Information on Mesothelioma Radiation Therapy?

Contact the Penn Mesothelioma program today. A Nurse/Patient Navigator can help you understand when radiation therapy is appropriate for mesothelioma, as well as all the other available treatment options.

Contact a mesothelioma Nurse/Patient Navigator at Penn today. Call 215-662-9697